Merida is both the capital city and largest city in the Mexican state of Yucatan. It is known for its culture, art and history. Of course, it’s also close to the beach. When thinking about where in Mexico you may want to retire, Merida is sure to be at the top of your list. Continue reading
Merida’s art scene is ever-growing and is starting to get worldwide recognition. With the help of government-funded programs and an influx of international talent coming to the area, the Yucatan capital is posturing itself to be a favorable destination for the creative arts. The Pinacoteca del Estado de Yucatan (Yucatan Painting Gallery), which is a part of the Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan (Yucatan’s Autonomus University), operates a small ground floor gallery in the downtown area. It holds an artistic reverence that attracts art connoisseurs from around the world. Moreover, there are numerous art museums showcasing Mexican and other world-renowned artists’ extraordinary work. Merida’s art scene is, in fact, stealing the spotlight.
Merida’s Art Scene Deserves Recognition
The historical setting of Merida, year-round warm weather and cultural influences are an ideal platform for adventure-seeking artists. Because of this, art galleries like The Bernardini Gallery are starting to migrate towards Merida’s art scene. Not only is there plenty of local talent contributing to Merida’s growing market, but artists from as far away as Cuba and New York are taking notice as well.
Popular Art Museums in Merida
The Museum of Popular Art resides in the historic district of Merida. It is the perfect place for displaying a variety of art that comes in many shapes and forms. The following venues are an attributing factor to the rising popularity in Merida’s art scene.
Galerie Merida’s building projects an architectural theme that radiates colonial descent and provides an ambiance with its higher ceilings and traditional tile. The gallery holds an abundance of contemporary and fine artwork by some of the region’s most noted artists. The gallery also has an outdoor section that exhibits some magnificent sculptures.
Museo de la Canción
Museo de la Canción portrays the art of Yucatecan music and how it has influenced many national and international cultures. Even though the museum signage and information are mostly in Spanish, it still offers a visual remembrance of times past. They say music makes the world go around!
Palacio del Gobierno
Palacio del Gobierno (Governor’s Palace) is a turn-of-the-century government building where the walls illustrate the history of the Mayan people and their cultural beliefs. The murals were painted by the famous Fernando Castro Pacheco who still resides in Merida and paints in his own distinctive way.
Museo Contemporaneo Ateneo de Yucatan
The Museo Contemporaneo Ateneo de Yucatan (also known as MACAY) has a multitude of halls displaying a variety of fine art. It is located in a government-owned building in central downtown Merida that dates back to the 1500s. There are exhibits that display work from several well-known local artists. It also offers a bit of an educational tour that walks you through the world’s history of art.
Amaro Restaurant Gallery
Amaro Restaurant Gallery is in a peaceful courtyard where the walls are filled with fabulous art. Enjoy a refreshing beverage and local cuisine while viewing some magnificent art pieces. Who said art galleries had to be indoors?
Other places that are worth a mention are Centro Cultural de Merida Olimpo, located across Plaza Grande, and the Merida City Museum. The latter is housed in the old post office building. Both these venues display ancient artwork from the Mayan era, as well as the Spanish conquistadores.
Merida: Perfect for artists, expats and retirees
Merida’s art scene is quickly developing. Because of this, the city is becoming an important icon in today’s world of art. Practicing, up-and-coming, and well-known artists are flocking to the region to explore different art avenues. They look to expand their creativity, find alternative inspiration and possibly devise a new era with their given talents. In turn, this creates a unique and artistic experience to anyone visiting, living or retiring to Merida or anywhere nearby (such as the Riviera Maya). It opens up plenty of cultural activities for those that enjoy bathing in art and discovering new artists around. Visit Merida and explore the finer threads of life that bring joy to all your senses.
If you want to visit a place with charm, history and culture; Merida should be on your list! Founded in 1542 by Francisco de Montejo and Leon, Merida has a rich heritage that combines elements of the Mayan and Spanish traditions.
Everywhere around the Yucatan, you will find that the Maya culture is present. You will see it in the traditions, history and even how the Yucatecans speak Spanish; while the Spanish influence can be traced to language and religion. The mix of these two, make for today’s Yucatecan culture.
The Yucatan people have a distinctive culture, in many ways different to the rest of Mexico and this is due greatly to the isolation in which they lived for centuries; as communication routes with the rest of the country were almost inexistent.
If you want to know more about this beautiful city, here is a list of 10 things to do in Merida.
- Enjoy a cold Agua de Chaya or other cold drink in one of the cafes across the street from the Zocalo or main Plaza. What better way to learn more about the Yucatan people, than observing the busy life in the downtown area?
- While in downtown, do not miss the opportunity to visit the Montejo Palace, a museum located in one of the corners of the main plaza. This XVI century building was property of the Montejo family and is the only building in the Peninsula built in a Renaissance style.
- The production of Sisal in the XIX and XX century made a few local families extremely wealthy, it was said that Merida had the most millionaires in all of the Americas. Most of that wealth is gone now, as Sisal was replaced with cheaper synthetic materials; but a stroll along the magnificent Paseo de Montejo will take you back to the golden era of the Yucatan.
- While on Paseo Montejo, you need to visit to Palacio Canton, built in the early 20th Century for the Governor’s family; with elements imported from different parts of Europe. This museum has a vast collection of Mayan Artifacts, and it is itself a historical piece that will let you experience the beauty of the Belle Epoque.
- If you feel like a tour but don’t fancy the walk, you can hire a Calandria to take you through the main streets of Merida. The slow paced horse carriage will let you appreciate the beauty of the city, and the magnificent colonial buildings and churches.
- Have a nice Yucatecan lunch; there are plenty of new dishes to try. A mix of Mayan, Spanish, Lebanese and Dutch influences; Yucatecan food is a completely different to Mexican food! The isolation of the Yucatan Peninsula influenced their cuisine, as they had to cook from a limited list of ingredients.
- Eating a Marquesita is another culinary experience that you can only have in the Yucatan. This delicacy is a mix of a Crepe and a Wafer, can be filled with savory ingredients like Dutch Edam cheese, cream cheese and ham or sweet fillings like dulce de leche, perserves, banana, condensed milk or nutella.
- Buy a Guayabera, despite the controversy on the origin of this garment, the Yucatan has a claim on this popular shirt and many specialized shops where you can find the best Guayaberas in Mexico.
- Visit the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya and learn everything you have to know about this mystical culture. There are videos, interactive material and many Mayan artifacts that follow the history of this ethnic group starting from the beginning of time until today.
- Visit a Hacienda and enjoy the tranquility and beauty of its surroundings. Most of these old buildings are used as hotels or restaurants, but their splendor can take your breath away.
These are only a few of the things you can do while visiting or living in Merida, there is so many things to do that it is impossible to write them all in an article. If you think we are missing something, please let us know!
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